VCE Tip 5 – The Research Essentials for Area Study 2

August 18th, 2016  |  Published in e-news, English teacher resource

The Context


• You need to ensure you produce a bibliography, have followed appropriate protocols as set out by your school and that your style is consistent.
• As you undertake your research ensure that you take notes and think about how you might use material for SACS and the Exam.
• Your research needs to be both broad and focused.
• Avoid falling into the trap of becoming fascinated by an area of interest and manipulating the material to address your context.
• Research is difficult and time consuming, can seem fruitless, and progress slow. However, constructive research is never a waste of time. You are required to study texts outside school prescribed texts used as stimulus for your SACS. Ultimately, you need to familiarize yourself with a broad range of ideas and discussions within other texts. This will stimulate and add to your understanding of your context.
• You are expected to draw on your own research, ensure that it is relevant to your context and to use your material with style and originality. This area of study does not lend itself well to students who expect ready-made answers from teachers and tutors. Even when you demonstrate a sustained effort and thorough understanding of your class texts you are likely to produce a text type essay.
• If you are planning to attend a university be aware that a large component of your studies will require individual research.

You will benefit from reading the daily newspaper and quality journals, both print and online.
It is recommended that you collect articles of interest and relevance to your context and prompts you’ve already explored and written about. Avoid simply pasting material into a scrapbook. You should be annotating the article with comments about how the material could be used to inform your thinking and writing about your context. This is part of your Own Independent Research
The demands and expectations of this task also give you the opportunity to have a greater control over your research and responses.
When researching for your context you may have a particular area of interest and perspective you’d like to explore to address your context. For example:
• Psychological
• Sociological
• Historical
• Literary
• Philosophical
You need to be able to conduct independent research. One student, studying the Context Whose Reality? decided to focus closely on how the media portrays disasters. In order to do this the student contacted an academic researcher in the media, read a number of books and articles, and downloaded the podcast of a radio discussion on this issue. By conducting such detailed research this student ensured that he was well placed to write something original, sophisticated and detailed.

Ideas drawn from Death of a Salesman
Prompt: Our subjectivity imprisons us in distorted, partial views of reality
In Death of a Salesman Willie constructs a fantasy world based on his memories of the past.
• From a psychological perspective you could explore and consider why Willie lives in the past. You could argue that memories of better times serve as a refuge from the present, and help Willie maintain some semblance of sanity and wellbeing, as his world falls apart and the future becomes uncertain.
• You could argue that not only does Willie’s past, son and brother of successful businessmen help to define his identity and expectations, but also makes it difficult to alter his sense of reality. Although Willie’s circumstances change dramatically he sees the world from a perspective of the flawed American Dream.

Consider your context as abstract ideas and concepts
• Encountering Conflict is not simply about fighting or arguing, you need to consider more subtle and abstract examples of conflict. For example, conflict of ideas and beliefs, conflict within an individual, conflict between man and nature. Think about how and why conflict occurs and the many possible consequences during, directly following, and long term.
• In studying the context Imaginative Landscapes you could explore the role of the physical environment in creating culture, such as in science fiction texts which place human beings in extraordinary landscapes. You could explore the role an environment plays in a writer’s work. In The Great Gatsby descriptions of pollution represent human corruption. Also consider how the landscape affects or influences a character’s partial view of their world. For example, a number of Stephen King’s stories are set in a fictionalized placed called Castlerock. King delves into the darker side of seemingly innocent small town America by exposing greed, hatred, violence and fear.

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